Motovated Case Studies

Antarctica NZ Traverse Living Module Case Study


Antarctica New Zealand (AntNZ), in conjunction with The Composite Group, engaged Motovated to develop a living module for Antarctica. The concept was to use a pre-existing 8m x 3m x 2.5m swimming pool mould to create a double skinned fiberglass enclosure, insulated with 100mm urethane foam. 

This was then to be fixed to a fiberglass floor creating a complete weather tight enclosure that could be fitted with doors, windows, kitchen, bathroom, bunks, seating etc. The final stage is to then attach the completed module to a tested and proven German designed steel sled. And then drag it 2500kms to service and resupply various research facilities scattered across the ice shelf!

Key requirements for the fiberglass living module:

  • Designed to handle 200kph winds, dynamic loads of rough terrain, slopes, and a sled skid dropping into a crevasse.
  • Amenities for 6 people to live for 3+ months at a time.
  • Thermal considerations including: thermal breaks in attachment design, thermal mass, and large temperature fluctuations.
  • Careful consideration of final build cost to ensure project viability.


Motovated’s first task was to design and analyze the structure against a series of load cases, and the second task was to design the interior layout of the module.

  • A multi-laminate shell, solid, and beam element model was harmoniously combined into one FEA model to design and analyse the structure.
  • Due to thermal mass considerations, fiberglass pultrusions were designed and analysed using orthotropic material properties to design the floors embedded beam structure.
  • We then established composite factors of safety for all of the load cases for all higher stress junctions of the structure.
  • The resulting R value for the structure was such that only around 2kw of heating will keep the inside at 20°C even if the outside weather is at - 60°C!

Once the outer structure and the floor were designed, we worked closely with Antarctica NZ to design the interior layout. We ensured the layout of the module was going to tick as many living requirement boxes as possible.

  • We modelled, discussed, and specified methods to construct and orientate the associated amenities. These included; wet entrance area, bathroom, kitchen, seating, living, sleeping, radio communications area, and storage facilities.
  • We researched and specified various services such as diesel air and water heating, power generation and storage, lighting, cooking, frozen food storage, potable water generation and grey water discharge.


Working alongside the experienced individuals from Antarctica NZ & The Composite Group created a transparent design environment. It created a flow of ideas freely between all parties The end result is a living module that, when fabricated, will be far superior to any traverse living methods that are currently implemented.

Motovated Antarctica NZ Traverse Module Case Study Tumbnail
Antartica NZ
The Composite Group
Fiber Glass Beams Analysis for Antartica NZ by Motovated Design & Analysis

Figure 1: Analysing the fibreglass beams inside the floor

Twsitng load of fibreglass floor analysis for Antartica NZ by Motovated Design & Analysis

Figure 2: Twisting load of fibreglass floor driving into the composite walls

Living Module

Figure 3: Complete living module on sled